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03-10-2011, 03:51 PM
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A Fistful of Dollars
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From Pierre LeBrun:

TORONTO -- The Philadelphia Flyers have made their fans a little nervous, some even panicky, with a month to go before the NHL playoffs.

Their fears were somewhat justified Tuesday night when, after a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, veteran defenseman Chris Pronger unleashed a tirade directed at his team's play. Not good enough was his message. And that tells you that the Flyers have higher expectations than the average team when they could feel that unhappy after a win. Pronger had the long-term view in mind when he made those pointed comments.

"It is about the big picture," Pronger said after Thursday's morning skate at the Air Canada Centre. "As each game goes by here, we get closer and closer to the start of the playoffs. We got to understand that we have lofty expectations; we had one goal when the season started and that goal hasn't changed. We got to make sure we're playing to the best of our abilities come the opening night of the playoffs."

Pronger won't play Thursday night when the Flyers face the Maple Leafs, as the team announced he's day-to-day with an upper-body injury. It'll give him a unique vantage point from the press box to see whether his team is playing its way out of a recent slump that saw the first-place Flyers lose four in a row.

"We're not happy to be playing this way," Flyers goalie Brian Boucher told on Thursday. "You don't want to lose games consecutively, and when you lose four in a row, obviously people get upset, and as players, we're not happy about it, either. It's just one of those things; it's a long season with ups and downs. I think the main thing is that we snap out of it in time before the playoffs. And I think we're working towards that."

And here's the thing. We addressed the Flyers' slump earlier this week in our Rant Answers blog by explaining the team's recent malaise as pure boredom. To wit, the Flyers entered the month of March fully in charge of the conference and just wanted to start the playoffs right then and there. Another month in the regular season? Boo. Enter the dog days of the NHL season. Suddenly the foot comes off the gas pedal, even if it's only subconsciously.

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